My Experience in Vipassana

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Felipe
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Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2015 10:06 pm

My Experience in Vipassana

Post by Felipe » Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:29 am

viewtopic.php?f=7&t=8734
In the above topic, I was asked to elaborate on my experience in Vipassana and how it changed my life so this is my post about that.

I heard about Vipassana through an ex-girlfriend. Shortly before she left to Vipassana for a 10 day meditation, she told me about an act of betrayal that she had done. I told her we might break up over this. Her finding peace with our potential break up was her Vipassana journey. She came back and I almost immediately told her I was breaking up with her, I couldn't be monogamous with her since we had different definitions of what's okay in monogamy, and I'd begun having sex with someone else. She, normally emotionally reactive, had so much peace and love in her eyes- I felt she was either in heaven or had totally broken. A little scared for her, I checked in a few hours later and she still sounded so serene. I was curious.

About a year later, I managed to make an opportunity to go. I went to North Fork, near Yosemite. Once we park, we hand over our keys and cell phones, read the agreement to stay for 10 days and sign it. It's 9 days of noble silence (no talking/eye contact) and 1 last day of some communicating allowed. There's a manager and volunteer staff to get help from that we can talk to about logistical issues. Aside from that, there's no communication. Wake up at 430, meditate for an hour or 2. Eat, meditate, eat, meditate, short break to walk, meditate. It's 10-12 hours a day of meditating.

My own experience inside the camp was stressful, boring, exhausting. I wanted to quit on all but days 4 and 10. But I saw my own mind more and more clearly. I occasionally forgot I was meditating during the sessions and thought I was hanging out with friends. I remember thinking about my lover at the time, then forgetting about her and thinking about an ex, seeing this attachment switching more readily than I previously realized. My greatest accomplishment was sitting completely still for a whole hour-no itching, no eye opening, nothing.

I met some really cool people from across the state here. I asked one hippyish dude who had hitchhiked from Colorado how he dealt with the isolation: "I see it as solituude." Hmm... Maybe being alone isn't as bad or socially shamed as I thought.

After it was over, I felt more loving, more at peace. I began meditating daily. I accepted and processed emotions more readily, I learned how to feel and simply accept, how to let go of my story. But the biggest change was that I no longer needed to be with people to feel okay.

Whereas before, I'd force myself to be around the wrong crowd just to have company, I now am okay being alone. I spent alot more of the following years cultivating peace than obssessing about having more friends and being engaged in social activities every moment of the day. I enjoy 1 on 1 time, not parties much. I spend time with friends/lovers 2 or 3 times a week and family about as much. This feels good for me and once I saw people less often, I became more grateful for and warm towards them.
I ultimately convinced my mom to go and she hated the experience but loved the results- she began meditating after and it helped her sleep easier for the following year, she became more peaceful for a time.

tldr: Difficult but helped me cultivate peace, enjoy alone time, and treat people better.

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Eureka
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Location: Copenhagen, Denmark

Re: My Experience in Vipassana

Post by Eureka » Mon Mar 20, 2017 4:37 pm

Nice story, but did you get all this output from just one vipassana retreat or did you go several times? Are still going?

thrifty++
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Re: My Experience in Vipassana

Post by thrifty++ » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:53 am

I tried it but it did my head in. Left after 3 days. The hardest part was no exercise being allowed for the whole time. Plus there were no decent walking trails so couldnt even do that.
Afterward I got sick with bad gastroenteritis which I think I picked up as the result of heavy communal living yuck

Felipe
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Re: My Experience in Vipassana

Post by Felipe » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:45 am

@Eureka
I did one full retreat. I was going to do a second but ended up going to San Diego to hang with a girlfriend at the time. I still meditate 3-20 minutes every day.

@Thrifty
I wasn't perfect on mine with no exercise. I had a bunk bed to do rows and incline push ups off of. Mine was near Yosemite so there were some gorgeous trails, I saw a bird catch a butterfly midflight, an ant swarm devouring an apple piece on the trail.

It's unfortunate you got sick and had a difficult experience. Mine was very clean and some people lived in tents instead of in the cabin. Returning to their cabin just to shower.

Solvent
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Location: Romandy
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Re: My Experience in Vipassana

Post by Solvent » Thu Mar 23, 2017 3:03 pm

I don't actually bear any ill-feelings towards Vipassana but I did find the following skit funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9CPIa0-M0tI

Meditation is something I've tried a few times but I can't seem to stick with the habit. It doesn't seem to do anything for me. Once I managed to give myself a bit of vertigo, that was about as interesting as it got.

DSKla
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Joined: Wed Dec 24, 2014 11:07 am

Re: My Experience in Vipassana

Post by DSKla » Sat Mar 25, 2017 7:31 pm

I tried vipassana when I first started meditating, mainly because it was the only kind I was able to find good resources on, via Daniel Ingram. I did like it, but ultimately decided it was not for me. The constant mindfulness was difficult--I prefer to drift in thought and imagination at times. All self-study, no retreats for me.

I switched to discursive meditation, which has a long, rich tradition in the west (and even in the east, though it's less-often associated than the no-self type). It's a style in which you select a topic ahead of time, and enter into what I would call a loose focus, then let your mind "unzip the file" through internal dscourse and whatever images may arise. If your thoughts wander, you gently return to the topic and resume. This is the type of meditation you would've seen referenced in Greece and Rome, as well as in the early Christian tradition. Marcus Aurelius' Meditations are, in my estimation, both a result of his own dsicursive meditations and a rich source for further meditations. It's helped my deep, independent thinking and my creativity immensely. Even a simple topic that I think I already grasp will unfold in surprising ways.

My point is not to steer people away from vipassana. If it works for you, that's excellent. Those of you who didn't like it may still find a different type of meditation that appeals to you, whether it's discursive, or one of the other innumerable traditions.

thrifty++
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Re: My Experience in Vipassana

Post by thrifty++ » Sat Mar 25, 2017 10:12 pm

Felipe wrote: @Thrifty
I wasn't perfect on mine with no exercise. I had a bunk bed to do rows and incline push ups off of. Mine was near Yosemite so there were some gorgeous trails, I saw a bird catch a butterfly midflight, an ant swarm devouring an apple piece on the trail.

It's unfortunate you got sick and had a difficult experience. Mine was very clean and some people lived in tents instead of in the cabin. Returning to their cabin just to shower.
I think its very much lack of exercise made it most difficult. There were walking trails but it was in rural Quebec and the trails were dense bush and I could not believe how thick eastern Canadian bush is with insects. They would swarm all over your face constantly. Consequently the trails were impossible and no one did them. I think if I had beautiful trails to wander without being attacked by thousands of insects I could have done it.

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